Being injured in a bicycle accident can be devastating. It almost goes without saying that a cyclist is no match for an oncoming car. Such cases can result in paralysis, other serious injuries, or even wrongful death. Understanding the causes of such injuries and how to avoid them can help to prevent these types of situations. It is also important to understand how Florida’s comparative negligence laws impact bicycle accident cases.
Bicycle Accidents Are Often Caused By Negligent Drivers
There are several ways in which a negligent driver can injure a cyclist. These include driving while distracted, changing lanes without signaling, and running traffic signals.
Distracted driving has become a leading cause of car accident cases in Florida. The same is true when it comes to bicycle accidents. Examples of distracted driving can include the operator of a vehicle talking, texting, or looking at social media while operating their car. Distractions, however, are not limited to activities that occur on a smartphone. They can also stem from eating while driving, adjusting the radio, talking to passengers in the car, etc. These types of activities can all lead to a driver hitting a cyclist.
Cyclists can reduce the chances of being hit by a distracted driver by paying close attention to the patterns of nearby cars. Those who are driving distracted may be more likely to be veering side to side, to be following other cars too closely or at an abnormal distance, etc. While a cyclist cannot veer into nearby cars, they can observe erratic behavior, which could indicate that a driver is operating their vehicle while distracted. Avoiding such vehicles can reduce the chances of an accident.
Changing Lanes Without Signaling and Running Traffic Signals
Drivers often change lanes without signaling, and they also sometimes run through red lights or stop signs. This can result in an accident when a cyclist has the right of way and assumes that others will obey the traffic laws. Such errors by a driver can result in the cyclist being hit while in an intersection or a car hitting from the side while changing lanes. Given that the vehicle will likely be traveling at full speed when the driver makes such an error, the cyclist is likely to suffer serious injuries.
The best way for a bicycle rider to avoid these types of accidents is to not assume that cars will be obeying traffic laws and to pay close attention when approaching an intersection. This means, for example, that when a rider is approaching an intersection where they have the right of way, then they should still slow down slightly and observe each side of the road before crossing. If an oncoming car clearly appears that it is not going to stop, then the rider can stop even though they have the right of way.
Bicycle Accidents Can Be the Fault of the Cyclist
There are multiple ways in which a cyclist may be to blame for a bicycle accident. These include the failure to signal, riding too far to the side of a lane, etc.
Bicycle Riders are Obligated to Utilize Turn Signals
Bicycle riders must follow the rules of the road. These include indicating they are about to turn through the use of hand signals. Riders not signaling can be especially problematic when they are turning left from a lane in which they also have the option of going straight. This can lead to a car believing that they have the right of way when, in fact, they do not. The best way for a rider to avoid accidents involving the failure to use turn signals is, obviously, to use them.
Riders May Cause an Accident By Staying too Far to the Side of a Lane
Cyclists sometimes make the mistake of not staying in the center of their lane and, instead, riding too close to one side or the other. While the entire lane is technically the rider’s “space,” if they are too close to either side then they make it more likely that they will be hit by a car that ever so slightly enters the wrong lane. Staying in the center of one’s lane helps a rider prevent being involved in an accident.
Florida Bicycle Accidents Often Involve Comparative Fault
Florida has adopted the concept of modified comparative negligence. This means that an accident victim can still recover damages even if they were partially at fault for the incident. Any damages they are awarded will be reduced by the extent to which the jury considers them responsible for the accident. If a victim is found to be more than fifty percent responsible for an accident, then they will recover nothing.
Consider the following example. Joe Rider turns left at an intersection without signaling. He is hit by Bill Driver. The evidence shows that Bill, who technically had the right of way, was speeding and was also texting while driving. The jury found that each side was equally responsible for the accident. Joe’s damages are determined to be $100,000. Joe, therefore, will receive $50,000 ($100k in damages minus Joe’s 50 percent share of fault).
Comparative fault is an especially important issue in bicycle accident cases as the driver of a car will often claim that the rider changed lanes without signaling, was following too closely, etc. Given that bicycle accidents often have more room to argue as to who was at fault for the wreck, it will be important that you retain an attorney who is experienced in presenting such issues to the jury.
Contact A Florida Bicycle Accident Attorney Today
If you or a family member were injured while cycling, then it is important that you contact a lawyer as soon as possible. Counsel will immediately begin dealing with the opposing party’s insurance while you focus on your treatment.